Article: Eternal Farewell – The loss of a brother or sister

Kathleen O'Hare News

‘The youngest member of our family has died’, said my uncles as they arrived at the Wake House. My father, their brother, had passed at the age of 89, yet to his family, he remained the eternal baby. The sentiment of losing a younger sibling reverberates through the core of family ties, and even in the face of a well-lived life, the sorrow is profound. A family unit never really recovers from the loss.

In the next few years, all his surviving siblings passed away too, one just weeks before her 100th birthday. The ache of losing a sibling, regardless of their age, resurfaces memories of growing up together, attending school hand in hand, and coping with the twists of life. These shared experiences bind siblings, making the departure of one, no matter their age, a poignant and trying chapter for the surviving family members.

While society may perceive the tragedy of a premature death based on age, those left behind grapple with the profound loss of a brother or sister who has journeyed with them through life is immense. Some may offer humbling words, acknowledging the longevity of their sibling’s lives and expressing gratitude, yet deep within, the pain persists. Rare is the soul who welcomes the departure of a loved one; regardless of the years they’ve spent on Earth.

In the echoes of grief, the words of the Psalms, “The days of our years are threescore years and ten; and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years yet is their strength labour and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away” (Psalm 90:10). The biblical wisdom encapsulated in these verses show the universal struggle with mortality. The end of our earthly bonds with a sibling forces us to confront our own humanity.

Throughout the Bible, there are many stories of siblings facing death. Abel and Cain, where brotherly love turned to tragedy, reflect the inherent frailty of human relationships. The bond between Mary and Martha, who mourned the passing of their brother Lazarus, echoes the universal grief that transcends time. These stories, serve as both comfort and a reminder that the anguish of losing a sibling is not a modern affliction but a shared human experience across ages.

As the family circle gathered to bid farewell to the family’s youngest member, the timeless words of Ecclesiastes were spoken, “To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted” (Ecclesiastes 3:1-2). In the face of sorrow, the scriptures offered some guidance to those coping with the end of an era of a family unit and the flow of life’s inevitable seasons.

In the hushed atmosphere of mourning, the Bible becomes a source of strength, a reservoir of timeless wisdom that speaks to the depths of the human soul. The departed sibling becomes a testament to the fragility of life; a poignant reminder to cherish each fleeting moment, providing solace in the face of the inevitable parting that awaits us all.